Dentists added as vaccinators for children and the elderly

The government plans to hire more vaccinators, including dentists, as the country prepares to vaccinate minors between the ages of 12 and 17 against COVID-19, the health ministry said Thursday. Under Secretary of Health Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are also doing this in preparation for giving boosters to health workers and the elderly, and a third dose to people with compromised immunity. In an interview with the ANC, Vergeire said the pediatric vaccination and booster shots would mean 10 million more people. “We are therefore considering adding more vaccinators, extending vaccination hours and expanding vaccination sites,” Vergeire said. She said vaccine supplies for those who are eligible to receive them shouldn’t be a problem. The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 25.7 million people against COVID-19 and aims to vaccinate at least 77 million to protect the population against respiratory disease as more transmissible variants emerge . The DOH said Thursday that dentists are now allowed to be COVID-19 vaccinators. Under Secretary of Health Myrna Cabotaje said the DOH has coordinated with the Professional Regulatory Commission (PRC) and the Philippine Dental Association (PDA). Cabotaje said dentists need to coordinate with local government units. “They should be registered… and they need to link to the LGU. The dentist’s supervisor is a physician. The doctor, the head of the execution unit, must know that he has an additional dentist, ”she said. Cabotaje said the DOH has sent funds to various regions for the services of those who have been hired into the immunization program. Vaccination for all minors aged 12 to 17 will begin on November 3 in the National Capital Region (NCR), while nationwide implementation will take place on November 5, the DOH said Thursday. “We will have an initial kickoff on November 3 and we are very ready in the NCR,” Cabotaje said. Cabotaje also said that some areas already prepared for pediatric vaccination could join the NCR when the initial kickoff is on November 3. “By November 5, [we will have] full national implementation [of the program for children] 12 to 17 years old, ”she added. The National COVID-19 Task Force said the Philippines plans to vaccinate about 12.7 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17. On the other hand, Cabotaje said the government aims to have fully immunized at least 80% of the target population by December. Cabotaje said minors who are not immunocompromised will be vaccinated at regular vaccination sites. She urged local government units (LGUs) to have separate lanes for minors. Cabotaje said the government will open 123 hospital and non-hospital vaccination sites for the vaccination of minors with co-morbidities across the country on Friday. A total of 23,727 minors with comorbidities have already been vaccinated. At the same time, the DOH is working to get more elderly people vaccinated, as only 56% of the elderly population has been fully vaccinated. Government data showed on Wednesday that about 3.78 million elderly people or 45.91 percent of the population received their first dose of a vaccine while 4.64 million (56.22 percent) completed their vaccine series. Cabotaje said the number of fully vaccinated seniors was higher due to the use of the single injection Janssen vaccine. Besides the elderly, who are considered the most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, the number of vaccinations among the poor population must also be increased, Cabotaje said. Only 4.41 million or 34.19 percent of the poor population received their first dose while 2.83 million or 21.99 percent had been fully immunized by October 27. Meanwhile, 6.42 million people with comorbidities or 71.19 percent received a dose while 7.21 million or 80.01 percent were fully immunized. A total of 1.61 million frontline health workers, or 98.50 percent, have been vaccinated. For the rest of the adult population, approximately 1.16 million people received a dose while 323,412 were fully vaccinated. The Philippines has so far had 26.47 million fully immunized citizens. Also on Thursday, the Philippines hit the 100 million vaccine arrivals mark as more vaccines arrived from the UK and US. The country received 896,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine Thursday afternoon while another shipment of 976,950 doses of Pfizer arrived Wednesday evening. Pfizer’s latest shipment is one of 2,927,340 doses of Pfizer vaccine expected to arrive this week. Pfizer vaccines purchased by the Philippine government landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport – Terminal 3 at around 9 p.m. on Air Hong Kong flight LD-456 while AstraZeneca cargo arrived at Terminal 1 via flight NH-8595 from Nippon Airways and was donated by the Japanese government. The last vaccine delivery will be used to vaccinate minors across the country. Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez said the bulk of the supply will be allocated to the nationwide rollout of pediatric immunization, which begins on November 3.

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